Ever since Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo broke into the scene in 2007, they have dominated the football world, creating a duopoly that no one has been able to break. They have won lots of trophies and broken many records. In fact, their competition has become the topic of discussion every season as they keep fighting against each other.
Moreover, they have won many major individual awards- more than anybody in history. They have shared 9 Ballon d’Or awards, 7 Pichichi, 7 European Golden Boots, 10 UEFA Top Scorer awards and many others.
The rate at which they score goals is really unbelievable. Consistently scoring 40, 50 or 60+ goals every season is something that no one has ever achieved. In fact, their rivalry has set them at a level that is far above every player in their era. That is why if any player manages to compete with them, he should be recognised.
Therefore, below are 5 players who have shocked the duo by either beating them to major individual awards or sharing it with them in the past 10 years:
5. Antoine Griezmann
Antoine Griezmann is one of the best strikers on the planet. The French attacker is the most influential player in Diego Simeone’s team. His ability to score goals and the zeal to push his team forward has helped him achieve memorable feats in his career. The Atletico Madrid forward is one of those players that have defeated Messi and Ronaldo to individual awards.
In 2016, Griezmann overcame them to win the La Liga Best Player award before sharing the Ballon d’Or podium with them, coming third in the 2016 Ballon d’Or awards. This is not a small achievement at all, as the France international has done a lot and deserves to be on the list.
4. Andres Iniesta
Andres Iniesta is one of the greatest playmakers the football world has ever seen. He is well recognised in Spain and all over the world. He is also one of the few players who have won all the major competitions in his glorious career including both the world cup and the UEFA Champions League.
In 2012, he had an extraordinary season in which he upset the odds and defeated both Messi and Ronaldo to the UEFA Best Player award. This is an awesome achievement if you consider that Messi and Ronaldo were the dominant players then.
Besides, it should be recalled that the Spaniard beat Ronaldo by coming second in the 2010 Ballon d’Or awards. He also shared the same podium with them again in 2012.
3. Diego Forlan
The legendary Atletico Madrid player was a real force in his playing days. He was highly recognised for his free kicks and goalscoring stints. The Uruguayan boasts an impressive goalscoring record in the Spanish League. No wonder he also beat Messi and Ronaldo to major individual awards.
In 2009, Diego Forlan won the La Liga top scorer award after scoring 32 goals in 33 games for Athletico Madrid in the 2008/2009 La Liga season. That same year, he also beat the pair outranking them to claim the European Top Scorer award.
All these are impressive achievements and should be well appreciated.
2. Neymar Junior
When the Brazilian was signed by Barcelona from Santos in 2013, everybody recognised him as a big prospect. Many people tipped him to take over from the powerful duo and he has, to a great extent, lived up to the expectations that surrounded him.
Neymar became a very influential player in Europe winning various trophies and awards. He is one of the few players who managed to share major awards with the dominant rivals or beat them to it.
First, he beat Lionel Messi to the Puskas Award in 2012 before he later shared the UEFA Champions League Top Scorer award with both the Barcelona and Real Madrid icons, when he scored his 10th goal in the 2015 Champions League final against Juventus.
Neymar also shared the stage with them at the 2015 Ballon d’Or gala by taking the third position.
Beating or sharing awards with the duo is a big achievement for the Brazilian if you realise how much the pair has dominated so far.
1. Luis Suarez
Though under-appreciated, the Barcelona striker is truly a legend. His ability to put the ball into the back of the net is remarkable. This is evident if you look at his stats in recent years. He scored many goals for Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona. Suarez’s hard work qualified him to be on this list.
Just like the other players that were mentioned earlier, Luis Suarez also defeated Messi and Ronaldo to major individual awards. First, he shared the European Golden Shoe award with Cristiano Ronaldo in 2014 after scoring 31 goals for Liverpool in the 2013/2014 season. In 2016, he overcame the pair when he claimed the European Golden Shoe for the second time after scoring 40 goals for Barcelona in the 2015/2016 season.
Moreover, the attacker denied the duo again by winning the Pichichi award in 2016 for scoring the most goals in the 2015/2016 La Liga season. That same year, he shared the podium with them for the UEFA Best Player award. What an awesome achievement!